Monday, January 30, 2017

Keepin' The Faith

As a "Truth" Student, I struggle with keeping my mind focused on the good in everyone.  I shake my head in disbelief of the things I read online or see on TV that are happening in the United States.  I'm appalled and outraged, and really feel challenged about how to deal with it all.  I read this passage from Emmet Fox's book Sermon On The Mount this morning:

"If, when someone is behaving badly, instead of thinking of the trouble, you will immediately switch your attention off from the human to the Divine, and concentrate upon God, or upon the Real Spiritual Self of the person in question, you will find - if you really to do this - his conduct will immediately change.  This is the secret of handling difficult people, and Jesus understood it thoroughly.  If people are troublesome, you have only to change your thought about them, and then they will change too, because your own concept is what you see." ...

"You may find it helpful in the beginning to glance away from the person/situation while giving yourself this treatment."

Maybe it is time to turn off the news, and take a break from social media.  Focus instead on the blessings in your life, the wonderful country we live in, and pray for Divine Intelligence, Wisdom, Understanding and some good old American Common Sense to come to President Trump and his advisors.  Hand the problem over to God, and affirm that out of this situation only good can come.


Sunday, January 29, 2017

Never Have I Ever...

been so dumbfounded by the actions of a President who has been in office less than 10 full days!  I don't even know where to start, and because of that, I just may not be specific, except to state that there has not been one executive order that I agree with.  There have been speeches that just left me shaking my head.  (And why hasn't one of his advisors signed him up for private lessons in public speaking?)

Some of this frustration goes back to why I did not vote for Mr Trump in the first place.  He has absolutely no experience that qualifies him for this position.  This is what Dan Balz of the Washington Post said this morning on This Week With George Stephanopoulos.  He was speaking about the issue of proposed wall along the US/Mexico border.

"It is a sign of inexperience in these things.....He is a negotiator and he is a deal maker, but he has never done it in the context of diplomacy and national security."

Although I can understand those that voted for Mr Trump, hoping for change, I am more than concerned about the way he is going about it.  The ban on immigrants, what is going on with the National Security Council, gag orders regarding National Parks, pipelines that can effect the drinking water of our citizens?  WTF!  I just don't understand.

A friend of mine made this analogy:  Try to think of Mr Trump as a catalyst - similar to going through a physical detox when you change your diet.  Parts of it won't be pretty at all.  In fact, parts may be painful and disgusting.  However, change will occur, and we will take notice of what is happening.  Perhaps this is what we need for people to begin caring again about the state of things, and to take action!

Senators and Congress Men and Women from your state work for you!  They need your input and your views.  Let them know what you think.  Make your vote count!


Thursday, January 26, 2017

Let's Talk Vegetables

I'm taking a break from political topics (although I have more to say on that subject, but I'm getting too wrapped up in it all) - so I thought I'd talk a bit about something I love.  Vegetables!  Try not to get confused because I love vegetables but I hate cooking.  I cook only because I like to eat.

What is it with men and vegetables?  I've been married coming up on 39 years.  I have expanded my husband's palate from carrots, canned green beans, canned corn and iceberg lettuce to include broccoli and cauliflower pretty regularly.  He tolerates (and by tolerates I mean he will eat these things maybe once a month....) asparagus, artichokes, peas, fresh green beans, zucchini and summer squash and raw spinach.  However, he is pretty good with starchy vegetables such as winter squashes, turnips, rutabagas and parsnips, and of course any kind of potato, but I can't push the potato alternatives too much.

I have been experimenting recently with other vegetables just to see if I can get a little more variety into my diet, and maybe into his.  Here are two hits for me; he tolerated the celery dish and took a "no-thank you" helping of the beets.

The beet recipe is an adaption from something I saw on The Chew.  I'll just call it "Sweet Beets".

Preheat oven to 400.  Peel and dice 3-4 medium sized beets.  (If you've not diced raw beets before, warning your hands will turn pink.  It may take a few washings to get rid of it).  Lay the beets in the center of a large piece of heavy duty foil.  Drizzle with EVOO.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Shake some dried thyme once over lightly (or top with a few springs of fresh thyme).  Bundle up the foil to make a package, leaving some air space for the steam.  Cook for 30-40 minutes.  Remove from oven, carefully open the package and add a handful of chopped dates.  Either fresh or dried, I don't think it matters.  I used dried because I'm lazy and can buy a package of already chopped dates.  They used fresh on The Chew.  Reseal the package, and return to the oven for 5 more minutes.  Stir and serve.

(Warning:  Don't be surprised if you have pink pee and poop in the coming days......)

For those of you who are more into cooking, you may want to see the original recipe which includes a horseradish sauce.  Here it is:

Roasted Beets Recipe From The Chew

Next up is the Braised Celery recipe which I found on Pinterest.  I will add a link to the original recipe below.

Wash and trim 4 stalks of celery and then cut them in about ¾ inch pieces on the diagonal.  Add 1 tbsp of butter to a medium hot skillet.  When the butter has melted, add the celery.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Cook, stirring now and then, for about 5 minutes.  Add about ¼ - ⅓ cup of vegetable or chicken stock.  Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 5 more minutes.  Remove the lid and allow any remaining liquid to caramelize.  This made 2 servings, and was a great way to use up celery.  Next time I may add some sliced onions or chopped cabbage just to see how it turns out.  And mushrooms - everything is better with mushrooms!

The original recipe is for 4 servings and comes from A Girl Defloured.

If you are a vegetable lover like me, or just looking for something a little different, I hope you enjoy the recipes.  I continue to be on the hunt for new (and easy) ideas.  Feel free to share if you have any!




Sunday, January 22, 2017

Make America Great Again

I am a middle class, non-partisan, white woman, old enough to join AARP.  I think America is and always has been great.  I also think there things that can be done to make America even better.

1.  The President of the United States cannot have conflict of interest issues between his own business interests and the interests of the nation.  To this end, in my opinion, President Trump needs to release his tax returns.  He needs to put his business interests into a blind trust.  And even doing that, I find it hard to believe that anyone could make decisions of the sort the president will be asked to make, and not take their own interests into consideration on some level.  We've just never had a non-politician with large business interests holding the office of President of the United States.  I personally think he should be selling all of his business interests that are held in foreign countries, for example his hotels.  I think if his company has loans through foreign banks, they should be resolved.  I don't know how you go about accomplishing that, but how can it not be a conflict of interest if you owe millions to foreign banks, even if they were initially legitimate loans.

2.  Healthcare - I think we really need to start working on a single payer, publicly funded, socialize healthcare plan.  We are the only major nation without one.  The only one that wins in a battle of insurance companies are the insurance companies, and the politicians that receive PAC funds for their reelection campaigns.  I believe that if the US Senate and US House of Representatives are making decisions on the healthcare options of the people they represent, those decisions should effect them as well.  I feel it is up to the public (who employs those representatives) to offer the same healthcare options to the senators and congress-people as we get.  If it is good enough for us, it should be good enough for them.

     And for heaven's sake, who in their right mind thinks abortion should be a governmental decision!  Do I believe in abortion?  For myself, it is not an option I would choose.  But do I think it is any of my business or the government's business to choose for others?  No - absolutely not.  Anymore than it  is anyone else's business whether a man has a vasectomy or a woman has hysterectomy or tubal ligation.  Those decisions should be between the patient and the doctor.  If a doctor does not want to perform abortions, that is his/her choice.  My statement to anyone who thinks it is their business what others do is this - Mind YOUR OWN business, and judge not lest you be judged as well.

3.  We need to take better care of our veterans, the military and their families.

4.  Foreign Aid - In my opinion, we take care of our own first.  To me that means the majority of funds collected through our tax base stay in the US.  The analogy to me is like the safety warning flight attendants give before take off.  Secure your own mask first, then help others.  We need to take care of Americans first, the help others!

5.  We need to be willing to pay for alternative energy sources so that we are not so reliant on foreign fuel.

6.  We need to explore whether the electoral college is the way we want to handle our elections vs popular vote.  (And can we really explore getting rid of Daylight Savings Time too?)  Some things/reasons have run their course.

7.  Term limits - another thing for consideration.  Can an 80 year old senator who has held the office for years and years really represent the interests of the younger generations?  Here I am, a senior citizen.  I want someone in their 40s or 50s representing me.  That age group holds a unique view.  They have just come through that time of life that you are finding yourself, finding your way, establishing your self, and providing for your family.   They are also in the position of looking at retirement and all the problems and benefits that go with that.  That should account for more than which "powerful committee" they are eligible for.

8.  Education - I'd love to see a version of funding college educations similar to the GI Bill that would be available to young people who either join the military or a volunteer work program such as Habitat For Humanity or the Peace Corps, and serve for 2 years for a community college degree or 4 years for a degree from a state university.

     As far as K-12 education, we need more funding for smaller classrooms and better pay for teachers and para-educators.  We need to spend less money on the ridiculous testing, and focus more on actual teaching.  Testing does not insure that no child is left behind - TEACHING does!

9.  Immigration - This should be a matter of documentation.  American should be welcoming one and all, but those immigrants must be willing to be held accountable for their own financial support and their actions.  I believe anyone wanting to live in the USA without becoming a citizen needs to have a sponsor who accepts financial responsibility for them.  The sponsor provides the job, the insurance, the housing.  It is not the responsibility of the US Government to provide for non-citizens.  Those that want to become citizens should also be able to prove they can provide for themselves, or have sponsorship in the instance of the elderly parents coming to live with their children who are citizens.  And speaking English, having passed an ESL course, should be a requirement.

Those are just some of the issues I personally feel need to be addressed by our federal government and I listed them in no particular order, just as they occurred to me while I was writing this entry.  And I'm sure once I post this, more things will occur.

I hope that we as voting citizens of the greatest nation on earth can begin to start holding our governmental officials and representatives accountable to doing that - representing their constituents, their employers!  If you don't like what is happening in this country, in your state, in your districts - demand action from those who represent you.  If they don't represent you, don't vote for them in the next election cycle.  Your vote matters.  Those representatives are just as interested in job security as the people who live in their districts/states.  Make them work for it!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Peace

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me.............Words from one of my favorite hymns/songs.

About now, however, I'd settle for peace in the United States.  Today I was reading an essay about the following beatitude:  Blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called children of God.

In this phrase, the word "peacemaker" is not used in the sense of a negotiator as we would think in present day times.  A peacemaker is someone who brings or invokes serenity in all situations.  Serenity is the awareness of the Presence of God.  It is that sense of peace that passes all understanding.  And really folks, isn't that what we need right now?

The following is an essay called, The Presence, by Emmet Fox.

"God is the only Presence and the only Power.  God is fully present here with me now.  God is the only real Presence - all the rest is but shadow  God is perfect Good, and God is the cause only of perfect Good.  God never sends sickness, trouble, accident, temptations, nor death itself; nor does He authorize these things.  We bring them upon ourselves by our own wrong thinking.  God, Good, can cause only good.  The same fountain cannot send forth both sweet and bitter water.

I am Divine Spirit.  I am the child of God.  In God I live and move and have my being; so I have no fear.  I am surrounded by the Peace of God and all is well.  I am not afraid of people; I am not afraid of things; I am not afraid of circumstances; I am not afraid of myself; for God is with me.  The Peace of God fills my soul, and me.  I am not afraid of the past; I am not afraid of the present; I am not afraid for the future; for God is with me.  The Eternal God is my dwelling place and underneath are the ever-lasting arms.  Nothing can ever touch me but the direct action of God Himself, and God is Love.

God is Life;  I understand that and I express it. God is Truth; I understand that and I express it.  God is Divine Love; I understand that and I express it.

I send out thoughts of love and peace and healing to the whole universe: to all trees and plants and growing things, to all beasts and birds and fishes, and to every man, woman and child on earth, without distinction.  If anyone has ever injured me or done me any kind of harm, I fully and freely forgive him now, and the thing is done forever.  I loose him and let him go.  I am free and he is free.  If there is any burden of resentment in me, I cast it upon the Christ within and I go free.

God is Infinite Wisdom, and that Wisdom is mine.  That Wisdom leads and guides me; so I shall not make mistakes.  Christ in me is a lamp unto my feet.  God is Infinite Life, and that Life is my supply; so I shall want for nothing.  God created me and He sustains me.  Divine Love has foreseen everything, and provided for everything.  One Mind, One Power, One Principle.  One God, One Law, One Element.  Closer is He than breathing, nearer than hands and feet.  I am Divine Spirit, the Child of God and in the presence of God, I dwell forever.  I thank God for Perfect Harmony."

May whoever reads this feel the Presence of God and bring their serenity to all situations.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Upcoming Inauguration

There was a scene in the TV series "West Wing" in which Martin Sheen's character, President Bartlett, was talking about the difference between the President as a man and the President as an office.  He explains that there are decisions that have to made in the Oval Office, and it is helpful in those situations not to think of yourself as "the man" but as "the office".  Will Mr Trump ever be able to put the office (the good of the country) above his own interests (the good of himself)?

When I struggle to understand my feelings about the man, Donald Trump, and the respect I have for the office of the President of the United States, I pretty much just drive myself bananas, trying to make sense of it all.  How did we wind up here?  How can this man that appears to be a narcissistic misogynist be our next president?  What happened to family values?  What happened to integrity and honesty?  Shouldn't our elected officials lead by example?  How can Mr Trump think that by continuing to have a say in any of his businesses is not a conflict of interest in regards to running our nation?  It just all baffles me.

And when I'm baffled, I turn to God, and ask for understanding and wisdom.

This month, I am reading Emmet Fox's The Sermon On The Mount.  The following passage is taken from the section discussing The Beatitudes, specifically 'Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.'

"As it stands, the Beatitude calls for very little comment because the words employed bear the ordinary meaning which we still give them in daily life, and the statement as given is as clear and obvious in its meaning........Kind actions coupled with unkind thoughts are hypocrisy, dictated by fear, or desire for self glory, or some such motive. They are counterfeits and they bless neither the giver nor the recipient.  On the other hand, (having) the true thought about fellow-man blesses him spiritually, mentally and materially, and blesses you too.  Let us be merciful in our mental judgments of our brother, for, in truth, we are all one, and the more deeply he seems to err, the more urgent is the need for us to help him with the right thought, and so make it easier for him to get free. Yo, because you understand the power of the Spiritual Idea - the Christ Truth, have a responsibility that others have not; see that you do not evade it.  When his delinquency comes to your notice, remember the Christ in him is calling out for help to you who are enlightened - so be merciful."

My interpretation of that, in the context of the upcoming inauguration,  is to praise and bless the President, and to ask that Divine Intelligence manifest within the office and the government as we move forward.  Feel free to utilize this affirmation I learned from Louise Hay.  "Out of this situation, only good can come."

And so it is.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Political Opinion and The Spiritual Approach

I am not particularly savvy in terms of politics. I am very middle of the road - a little be conservative, a little be liberal, but mostly I have what I consider to be a very common sense approach to things, including politics and government.
I am very concerned about the number of political/cabinet nominees that appear to have conflicts of interest or who flat out support policies in direct conflict with what the president-elect promised/support in his campaign.
The election is over. Mr Trump will be sworn into office on January 20th. He will be the one representing our nation. He will be making decision that effect all of us. 
The power we have as citizens is the power we give to our senators and congressmen and congress women. Whether or not you voted for Mr Trump no longer matters. What matters is that you make sure your voice - your opinion - is heard. I urge everyone to hold Mr Trump accountable, and insist on honesty and integrity. If you are concerned, like I am, about the moninees for the cabinet, etc., then call, write, email your senators and representatives. Express your views and concerns. These people work for you! They should cast their votes representing their constituents, not the party or the president! They are elected by you, not appointed by someone else. Don’t be afraid to let them know when it comes time for re-election, if they are not representing your values, your opinions, then you will be casting your vote elsewhere. Your vote has power. Pay attention to what is going on!

The above is a post I made on my personal Facebook page yesterday.  My intention had to been to take a Facebook break but I just HAD to share my concerns.  I have a very small number of FB friends - on purpose - and an even smaller number of regular readers for this blog - not on purpose, LOL.  I am really not one to get involved in political discussion, and for me to take a stand publicly on such things means there is really something to be concerned about.  

In my morning meditation, I asked the question about what to do.  The answer I received was "wisdom = divine guidance/prayer plus common sense.  One of my favorite spiritual teachers/authors, Emmet Fox, writes "When you set out to solve a problem by means of prayer, you should take the ordinary normal steps in addition.  Do not simply pray and thens it down and wait for something dramatic to happen."

This month I am reading The Seven Spiritual Laws of Success by Deepak Chopra.  Today's chapter was on the Law of Giving.  I assumed it was going to be about tithing.  It wasn't. It addressed the idea of giving a gift to everyone we meet.  Gifts come in many forms - money, items, blessings, compliments, and so on.

In the Chapter summary, Dr Chopra makes the following challenge:  Keep wealth circulating in your life by giving and receiving life's most precious gifts:  the gifts of caring, affection, appreciation and love.  Every time you meet someone, silently wish them joy, happiness and laughter.

Today, keeping this challenge in mind, I send blessings of Divine Intelligence, Wisdom and Understanding to President-Elect Trump, our Senators, our Congressional Representatives, the press and media, and the citizens of the United States.  Lord knows we need help - from both Divine Intervention and participation by our citizens for what is right for EVERYONE!